Capitol Comments

Legislation was unanimously approved by the Connecticut General Assembly to direct the State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to create a website with an interactive map and alert system to notify the public of expected sewage overflows. Representative Gerald Fox III introduced the measure after constituents raised concerns when a local sewage treatment plant received a violation from state regulators for releasing 43 million gallons of partially treated wastewater into Long Island Sound.  The bill is expected to be signed into law soon by Governor Dannel Malloy.

Please join CSG for an upcoming on webinar on addressing cyber security threats in the Smart Grid. The webinar is schedule for April 26th at 2 PM Eastern and will feature policy experts from the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) that will share how the utility industry is preparing to meet current and future cyber threats.

The Wall Street Journal features a front page story highlighting that four states and three Native American tribes have received $180 million in federal funding with few strings attached to clean up abandoned mines when their reclamation worries have been largely fixed. At issue is a change made in 2006 to the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) program and a fund made up of fees imposed on coal companies meant to help clean up old sites and for reclamation efforts. The legislative change  made disbursements to states "mandatory" instead of "discretionary" through the Congressional appropriations process, and consequently there is little funding left for other states with long-term clean up projects that may take decades. 

As the diminished snowpack feeding the Rio Grande River basin begins to flow downstream, the state of Texas and the Mexican government are now locked in a contentious dispute over early releases of irrigation water as drought conditions are expected to again hamper harvests. At issue is a decision by an international body, called the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), to release water from reservoirs in New Mexico and Texas into canals that irrigate fields in Mexico. The decision sparked strong reaction in a joint letter from the Texas Commissioner of Agriculture and Commissioner on Environmental Quality objecting to the decision as a breach of international treaties governing water flow at the expense of drought-stricken farmers in their state.

Late last week, Kinder Morgan Energy Partners announced its intention to expand the Trans Mountain Pipeline to 850,000 barrels per day. Currently, the Trans Mountain Pipeline is the only Pacific Coast outlet for Canadian crude oil to reach growing marketplaces in Asia. The news underscores the continued interest by Canadian producers and pipeline companies to search for additional markets for oils sands should US opposition persist in approving the Keystone XL Project.

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